Faced with a tricky away draw against league rivals Hanover Newry City produced their best team display of the season on Saturday to win 2-0 and claim a place in the semi final of the Mid Ulster Premier Cup. Use the first half to size up the opposition and the second to pull away seems to be the Newry way this season and that was certainly the case on Saturday with Newry starting slowly, enduring some scary moments in front of their own goal, before getting on top in all areas of the pitch eventually running out comfortable winners.
The first of those scary moments came after ten minutes when the Newry defence failed to deal with a high ball into their box and with goalkeeper Murphy having committed to the cross it was left to the covering Crilly to clear the ball from under his own cross bar.
Newrys response was immediate, Timmy Grant picking the ball up inside his own half skipping past some lunging tackles before finding Sean McMullan in space on the edge of the Hanover box, the big man unable to get enough power on his low shot to beat Matthew Shortt in the Hanover goal.
On 25 minutes Newry were presented with an excellent opportunity when Jimmy Walker was chopped down on the edge of the Hanover penalty area. Having scored from a very similar position last week Stephen McCabe was trusted with kick. This time McCabe went low, swinging his shot up and over the wall, alas into the side netting with Shortt sprawling to cover.
On the half hour mark Decky Carville almost opened the scoring when he met a McCabe corner at the near post, Hanover benefitting from having a defender on the post who was able to clear on the goal line.
With 40 minutes on the clock Crilly was once more called upon to come to his sides rescue when another speculative high ball again troubled the Newry rear guard, Crilly again clearing the ball from his own goal line.
And on the stroke of half time the same player showed his attacking worth when he was on the end of a sweeping passing movement which relesed him in space on the right wing, Crilly taking the ball to the by line before whipping in a low cross which the Hanover defence struggled to deal with, the ball falling to Grant near the penalty spot, his effort on goal valiantly charged down a Hanover defender.
Newry were immediately on the front foot at the start of the second period with another attacking move which cut through Hanover, first via McCabe down the left before he turned inside switching the attack to Grant on the right wing, Grant taking one touch to feed the ball into the path of Carville arriving inside the box, Carville’s shot on goal once more blocked by the Hanover defence.
Carville, Newry’s stand out player on the day, was turning up everywhere the ball was. On 55 minutes taking possession from McCabe inside the Hanover half, Carville cut inside his marker and shot from 30 yards which skimmed the Hanover crossbar. Minutes later the same players linked up again, this time Carville embarked on a mazy run which saw him take the ball to the end line from where he dummied his way along the end line only to be bundled over as he was about to shoot from an acute angle, the referee waving away claims for a penalty.
These repeated attacks finally paid off on 65 minutes. Thomas McCann, who also shone for Newry throughout, slipped a delightful through ball for Grant who’s shot was blocked but only as far as McMullan who ever alert rolled a perfect pass to the edge of the box from where Walker wasted no time picking his spot in the bottom corner of the Hanover net with a delightful curling shot which gave Shortt little chance.
Newry quickly doubled their lead on 70 minutes, McCann spotted that Carville had found space on the right wing and chipped a perfect pass over the defence which Carville took one touch to control before whipping in a cross which McMullan cleverly nodded on to McCabe behind him, McCabe quick to latch onto the loose ball which he hit first time with the outside of his left foot burying the ball into the back of the Hanover net.
And on 80 minutes Carville was denied the goal which his performance deserved by an excellent save by Shortt. Walker fed the ball into the feet of McMullan who had worked tirelessly for the 90 minutes. McMullan displaying quick feet deflected the ball into the path of Carville who smashed his shot from inside the box towards the far top corner only for Shortt, who had come off his line to narrow the angle, displaying sharp reflexes to get a hand to take the pace off of the ball allowing a covering defender to finish the clearance.
In all this was a very convincing performance from Newry. Solid in defence where both Crilly and Paddy Mooney looked very assured, dominant in the middle with McCann, Carville and Walker now complimenting each other and dangerous in attack with McCabe and Grant giving their opposite numbers the run around Newry manager Darren Mullen has his squad, with a host of equally capable players on the bench, in good order “Our quality and fitness levels have been evident this season but to be successful they have to be allied with hunger and desire. We are now getting those qualities throughout the squad and we were well worth the win. We knew this was going to be a tough game as Hanover have been doing well this season but the players were told if they matched them for effort then we would come out on top, that’s exactly what happened and our work rate both on and off the ball for the entire 90 minutes was of a very high quality. All that said one thing we won’t do is stand back and admire ourselves. It’s a case of well done but make sure you are ready for a tough night of training on Tuesday.”
Next up for Newry is an away league match against Crewe Utd on Saturday 7th November with a 2:15pm kick off. NCAFC travel club bus will leave The Stonebridge at 12:45pm.
Newry City: Murphy, Crilly, McMahon, Mooney, Mullen, Walker, McCann, Carville, McCabe, McMullan, Grant Subs: Johnston, Edgar, Martin, Sloan.